Cheer Du Jour

A little cheer to forget your troubles, and better yet, to toast with a glass of bubbles!

July 20 – National Lollipop Day

Lollipops

Don’t be a sucker (sorry, couldn’t resist!) – get your free lollypop at participating See’s Candy shops on 7/20.

Or, if you want to try your hand at being a confectioner, Sandra Lee has a recipe (below) for cherry lollipops on foodnetwork.com. While I haven’t tried this recipe myself (yet), I did read many positive comments on it. Also, you several readers suggested that you can substitute any flavor gelatin for variety. Gale Gand also has a recipe on foodnetwork.com, for psychedelic lollipops. Though perhaps a more challenging recipe, it’s a great chance to make edible art.

For a sweet trip down memory lane, click here to watch the retro commercial “How Many Licks Does It Take to Reach the Tootsie Roll Center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?” To go back a few more decades, click here and sing along with Shirley Temple’s classic “Good Ship Lollipop”.

via Cherry Lollipops Recipe : Sandra Lee : Recipes : Food Network….

CHERRY LOLLIPOPS

Ingredients

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup butter

1 (3-ounce) box cherry gelatin dessert mix

Nonstick cooking spray

Special Equipment:

20 (4-inch) lollipop sticks

Metal tablespoon-size measuring spoon

Candy thermometer

Directions

Butter 2 large baking sheets. Arrange 10 lollipop sticks on each baking sheet, spacing them evenly apart. Stir sugar, corn syrup, and butter in small saucepan over low heat until sugar has dissolved. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Continue cooking for 7 minutes, or until candy thermometer registers 275 degrees F. Stir in gelatin until smooth. Using a metal tablespoon and working quickly, spoon syrup over 1 end of each lollipop stick. Cool completely. Wrap each lollipop in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container.

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June 16th – National Fudge Day

Vegan Chocolate Fudge.

Oh Fudddggge!!!! Ralphie’s classic line always comes to mind when I think of fudge (click here to hear it for yourself). I also think of the dream job championed by the Cheermeister – Fudge Judge. Then, there are the endless batches of fudge to be made for gifts (and Santa, of course, to go with the cookies). Sensing a holiday theme here?

So, it seemed a bit odd to me that National Fudge Day is in June. Then, I remembered all the fudge shops to be found in any given summer tourist spot. You can’t walk down a boardwalk without seeing fudge, t-shirts and “special” tourist info booths hawking time-share demos in exchange for “free tickets to the hottest attractions”. Oh, and of course there is always lots of taffy too, but we missed Taffy Day (May 23rd).

In case you gobbled down said fudge on the way back from your holiday (maybe it was starting to melt?). There is no shortage of fudge recipes available. Click here to see ten drool-worthy fudge recipes on examiner.com – how about bourbon fudge, or peanut butter fudge, or FUDGE ICE CREAM! A friend of mine swears by the Carnation Fudge Recipe, but cautions you must bring the ingredients to a rolling boil and cook (stirring constantly) for the full 4-5 minutes (in other words, follow the recipe). Foodnetwork.com even has a recipe for fudge pie, from who else but Paula Deen?

So, load yourself up with this delicious confection and have a fudgetastic holiday!

Fudge

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Feb 14 – Valentine’s Day Facts

Scan of a Valentine greeting card circa 1920.

Scan of a Valentine greeting card circa 1920.A tiny 2-inch pop-up Valentine, circa 1920Valentine postcard, circa 1900–1910

Ah, such a sweet holiday…an entire day to spend in the embrace of your true love – CHOCOLATE! I tried to find a list of the best-selling Valentine candy, but only found that Conversation Hearts are number one (see details from Elizabeth LaBau’s blog below). There are also several lists of “good” candy to buy, which ruthlessly post the calories of our beloved sweets (warning – DO NOT look at those!). I also tried to find out the origin of Valentine’s Day, which brought up equally non-romantic results. Again a warning – Lupercalia is not a warm, fuzzy festival. Still, I did uncover some interesting Valentine traditions in a book by Ann Heinrichs. She lists the following customs:

Young ladies and gentlemen from England and Scotland wrote their names on paper and put them in a bowl. After drawing the names of their sweethearts, the young people pinned the chosen names on their sleeves. In England, a girl would write the name of each boy she liked on a slip of paper and tuck it into a clay ball. The spheres would then be submerged in water, and the first name that rose to the top would reveal her valentine. Elsewhere, girls would look out the window on the morning of February 14th to find their valentines, in the face of the first person seen. Birds also play a role in love lore, where robins flying on Valentine’s Day meant marriage to a sailor, sparrows meant marrying a poor man, and a goldfinch assured betrothal to a rich man.

Chocolate

Jacques Torres chocolates...mmmm

  • In the 1800’s physicians commonly advised their lovelorn patients to eat chocolate to calm their pining.
  • As an elixir for love, chocolate has been believed throughout history to bring smiles to the broken-hearted and to prompt amorous feelings in both men and women. It is believed that Madame Du Barry served it to all her suitors; Casanova consumed chocolate instead of champagne to induce romance; and Montezuma, the king of the ancient Aztecs, believed chocolate would make him virile.
  • At one time, conversation candies were made into shapes including horseshoes, baseballs and watches.

Conversation Hearts

English: An array of Necco Sweethearts (conver...

  • About 8 billion hearts will be produced this year; that’s enough candy to stretch from Rome, Italy to Valentine, Arizona 20 times and back again.
  • The peak selling season for conversation hearts last only six weeks, but confectioners produce the candy for nearly eleven months of the year.
  • At least 10 new conversation heart sayings are introduced each year. Recent additions include “Yeah Right”, “Call Home” and “Puppy Love.”
  • Each year the television game show JEOPARDY! includes questions about conversation hearts on its Valentine’s Day show.Trivia facts and survey results provided by the National Confectioners Association and used with permission. via Fun Valentine Candy Facts.

…and a few other interesting Valentine’s Day facts from History.com:

Looking for Love

141 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second-most popular greeting-card-giving occasion. (This total excludes packaged kids valentines for classroom exchanges.) (Source: Hallmark research)

There are 119 single men (i.e., never married, widowed or divorced) who are in their 20s for every 100 single women of the same ages. There are 34 single men (i.e., never married, widowed or divorced) age 65 or older for every 100 single women of the same ages.

Candy is Dandy

1,241: The number of locations producing chocolate and cocoa products in 2004. These establishments employed 43,322 people. California led the nation in the number of such establishments with 136, followed by Pennsylvania with 122. (Source:http://www.census.gov/prod/www/abs/cbptotal.html).  515 locations produced nonchocolate confectionary products in 2004. These establishments employed 22,234 people.

The total value of shipments in 2004 for firms producing chocolate and cocoa products was $13.9 billion. Nonchocolate confectionery product manufacturing, meanwhile, was a $5.7 billion industry.

The per capita consumption of candy by Americans in 2005 was 25.7 pounds. Candy consumption has actually declined over the last few years; in 1997, each American gobbled or savored more than 27 pounds of candy a year.

Flowers

The combined wholesale value of domestically produced cut flowers in 2005 for all flower-producing operations with $100,000 or more in sales was $397 million. Among states, California was the leading producer, alone accounting for nearly three-quarters of this amount ($289 million).

The combined wholesale value of domestically produced cut roses in 2005 for all operations with $100,000 or more in sales was $39 million. Among all types of cut flowers, roses were third in receipts ($39 million)to lilies ($76.9 million) and tulips ($39.1 million).

Data courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau  via Valentine’s Day Facts — History.com Articles, Video, Pictures and Facts.

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